Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that black voters in Alabama made up 29% of the electorate in 2008, not 30%.
Doug Jones became the first Democrat to win a Senate race in Alabama in a quarter century, and in doing so he provided yet another marker for the party as it looks to chart a course for the 2018 midterms and beyond. The recipe for a return to political relevance includes a combination of riding the wave of enthusiasm among key elements of the Democratic base (women, non-white voters, young people) while making inroads into college-educated voters, independents and the suburbs.
Democrat Ralph Northam used that formula to win the race for Virginia governor last month. As is evident from the exit polls, Jones followed a similar course on his way to a narrow yet stunning victory in the Yellowhammer State Tuesday night.
African-American vote key for Jones
For Jones to win it was widely expected he would need African-American voters to turn out at a rate close to what Barack Obama saw in his 2008 and 2012 presidential runs. Sure enough, they did. Black voters made up 29% of the Alabama electorate in 2017, matching their share of the 2008 vote and a point more than their 28% showing in 2012. Jones won the group by a 96% to 4% margin.
Black women were 17% of the electorate on Tuesday and they broke for Jones by an even wider margin – 98% to 2%.
Young voters were Jones fans
Jones won voters between the age of 18 and 29 by 22 points on Tuesday, with that group making up 13% of the Alabama electorate. Democrats traditionally perform well with younger voters, but in 2012